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Latina Publishers

Latina Publishers call for cultural diversity in children’s books this upcoming Read Across America Day

As educators prepare for Read Across America Day on March 2, children’s book buyers are invited to a “Meet Latina Publishers” live virtual event Feb 10th.

— Independent publishers suggest less Seuss and more literature that reflects America’s diverse student populations —

Across the nation, shopping for books and other preparations are underway for the annual community celebration of literacy.

Three independent press owners, all mothers, and authors of color ask educators and parents to pause and ask this question: Do these books reflect the diversity of the students I serve?

Sandra Gonzalez-Mora, Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, and Naibe Reynoso are all founders of independent publishing companies. They are social entrepreneurs, investing their energy, time, and money to offer children’s book buyers and communities across the USA innovative literature that more accurately reflects them, their language, their culture, and their world.

These three publishers invite curriculum directors, librarians, teachers, and parents to gather for a live Meet Latina Publishers Zoom chat on February 10th from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific to learn more about their work.

REGISTER for the event here: https://bit.ly/3GtOwNz

They are leading the impassioned, national movement demanding a shift in how school districts buy books, typically from large incumbent publishers slow to respond to the needs of a minority-majority student population.

Latina publisher and author, Sandra Gonzalez-Mora shares bilingual stories with young readers. (Photo source)

Graciela Tiscareño-Sato said, “In August 2014, in an Education Week article titled U.S. School Enrollment Hits Majority-Minority Milestone, we learned that ‘Latino, African-American, and Asian students in public K-12 classrooms were expected to surpass the number of non-Hispanic whites.’ The questions educators and parents must ask themselves are these: WHY haven’t more buyers of curriculum materials, books in classrooms and books in school libraries kept up with our schools’ demographic changes? WHY haven’t institutional buyers sought out indie publishers like us who have been ahead of the curve creating ground-breaking literature that reflects and inspires our diverse student populations?”

How can books in classrooms and public libraries across the country better reflect the diversity within the communities they serve? With Latinos accounting for about half (52%) of all U.S. population growth between 2010 and 2019, this question becomes much more critical. Latinos are the country’s second-largest ethnic group, behind white non-Hispanics, a fact not currently reflected in the children’s books that circulate in public and school libraries and classrooms.

Latina Publishers,

Sandra Gonzalez-Mora, M.Ed., award-winning author and publisher and founder of Skillful & Soulful Press. (Photo source)

“Latinx-owned publishing companies are galvanizing to change this landscape in the children’s publishing industry, it’s time,” said Sandra Gonzalez-Mora, author and owner of Skillful & Soulful Press.

2020 data on books by and about Black, Indigenous, and People of Color published for children and teens compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison state that out of the 3,115 books they received from U.S. publishers, only 212 books were written by Latinx authors and 191 books were about Latinx characters.

“Latinos are almost 20% of the population but we are largely invisible across all forms of media,” said journalist and Con Todo Press publisher, Naibe Reynoso. “This is a disservice not only to our community but it’s a missed educational opportunity for all classrooms.”

It is clear from the data collected by the CCBC year after year that traditional publishing is comfortably holding the status quo that isn’t serving all children in this country. The approach these women are taking to help children’s literature become more inclusive and reflective of U.S demographics is to write, illustrate, publish, and market their unique stories, often in multiple languages.

You might be interested: Ronit Shiro shares the gift of bilingualism with children through FeppyBox

Latina publishers call educators, librarians, and parents to action! (Photo source)

March 2 is Read Across America Day. This day is synonymous with books by Dr. Seuss, considered classics, which are created by white authors about white children and white families.

This year, these Latina creators have a call to action: they encourage more teachers and librarians across the USA to think about the young faces of students they serve and to intentionally purchase stories that represent them, reflect their communities and ambitions, and recognize their undeniable value across America.


About Gracefully Global, LLC: 

Since 2010 Gracefully Global Group LLC has published award-winning, educational literature and digital classroom content for K-12 school districts worldwide. Literary properties include the following award-winning titles: 1. Good Night Captain Mama / Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá and Captain Mama’s Surprise / La Sorpresa de Capitán Mamá -the first-ever children’s book series created in two languages where Mamá is flying a military jet, Latinnovating: Green American Jobs and the Latinos Creating Them, and for the military community B.R.A.N.D. Before Your Resumé: Your Marketing Guide for Veterans & Military Service Members Entering Civilian Life. See our offerings at https://www.gracefullyglobal.com/commerce 

About Skillful & Soulful Press:

Skillful & Soulful Press is a Latina-owned publishing company in Whittier, CA. We publish bilingual children’s books that celebrate languages and help develop children’s early literacy and language skills by introducing them to robust vocabulary words during family reading moments. Our small business is addressing the need to offer more diverse books, written and illustrated by people of color, that introduce young children to exciting new words in languages other than English. See our offerings at: https://www.skillfulandsoulful.com/shop

About Con Todo Press:

Established in 2018, Con Todo Press is a Latina-owned publishing company that creates children’s books that celebrate diverse cultures and highlight Latino leaders to help fill the gap in the publishing industry, where Latino stories are vastly under-represented. Con Todo Press has published many award-winning books including “Be Bold, Be Brave: 11 Latinas who made U.S. History,” and “Fearless Trailblazers.” See our offerings at https://www.contodopress.com

spanish children's books

How these personalized Spanish children’s books are helping to raise bilingual children

Maria Victoria Sanchez is the creator and founder of Libro Magico Amarillo, a publishing company that creates personalized Spanish children’s books. Her books offer a mix of adventures and educational content that keep children engaged and reading longer, all while playing and having fun. Her books also serve as a tool for parents raising bilingual children, helping them foster a love and appreciation of Hispanic language and culture in their children. 

Spanish children's books

Maria and her son reading “Adventuras en Troya” (Photo courtesy Maria Victoria Sanchez)

Rediscovering the magic of stories 

Libro Magico Amarillo officially launched in June of this year, but before that it spent 30 years simply being a dream in Maria’s mind. Creating Spanish children’s books was something she always thought of doing but procrastinated for many years, never knowing when was the right time to start. As a child, her mother instilled in her a love for reading and writing. Stories were magical and they became her greatest passion as a child. However, as she grew up, the magic spark receded in her mind. She let her dreams of telling stories fall away to a small corner of her mind where she would think of the idea from time to time but never act on her dream. 

Before Maria would make her book business a reality, she first spent a good portion of her professional life having a successful career in the corporate world. Born in General Roca, Rio Negro, Patagonia, Argentina, Maria earned her degree in law. After graduating from law school in Argentina, she then came to the U.S. to do her Masters at Harvard Law School. 

“I worked for big names in the corporate world including Greenberg Traurig, JP Morgan, and Mastercard. I got to live in different countries and travel extensively. But with the arrival of my two children, I realized that I was no longer interested in corporate life or business trips,” says Maria. 

With her priorities shifted, Maria did some soul-searching to figure out what she wanted to do next with her career. She was searching for the magic spark. She soon found it in one of her earliest loves: stories. Maria realized that happiness for her also meant doing things that had a social impact. Libro Magico Amarillo would provide her with the platform to do just that. 

Starting from zero

Maria officially began working on making her dream a reality a year ago. At the time she had no knowledge of the industry, e-commerce, or digital marketing. It was completely new territory.

Maria in her office working on her latest projects (Photo courtesy Maria Victoria Sanchez).

“I had to start from zero,” she says, “but I decided that it was now or never and that I did not want to die without having tried to build my own business venture.”

Over the next year, Maria met with illustrators, printers, writers, and delved deep into the amazing world of book publishing. She faced some obstacles along the way, from not having access to lines of credit or a name in the industry to other entry barriers such as the high cost of marketing and having to make tough choices because of limited funds. Then of course there was the Covid-19 pandemic which threatened to halt the process and launch of Maria’s dream venture. 

“The pandemic was not going to stop me,” says Maria. “It has certainly created hiccups, but also it has proven to be an opportunity for connection.” 

Launched on June 6, 2020–what would have been the birthday of Maria’s late mother–Maria’s personalized Spanish children’s books have served as a bridge to connect family and friends during the pandemic. Family members can gather together virtually to read together and share stories, all while helping to foster a child’s bilingual education and growth. 

Sharing the magic with others 

Maria’s driving force through the struggles was her love for books and her desire to make an impact. One of the ways she’s using her platform to help others is by donating a percentage of all new profits to JAFCO, an orphanage that is doing great work for children. The other main area of impact for Maria is in education and sharing the magic of stories with others while also helping parents raise bilingual children and foster an appreciation for Hispanic language and culture. 

bilingual children

Maria Victoria Sanchez, sharing her love of stories with her daughter. (Photo courtesy Maria Victoria Sanchez).

“As a mom, immigrant, raising bilingual children, I bring a new angle to children’s books, focusing on the Spanish language, with stories thought and written in Spanish and not just translated by AI,” says Maria. 

Her books bring Hispanic values and culture to bilingual children and act as an educational tool for parents who want to instill a love and appreciation for their home culture in their children. 

Libro Magico Amarillo’s books keep children engaged and by making the children themselves the protagonists of the stories. The personalized Spanish children’s books allow parents to customize the books with their child’s names and each book is printed on demand so that each child receives a carefully designed adventure personalized just for them! 

The books also cover a variety of topics including history and geography, which allows children to learn as they play. 

Recently, one young reader shared a video with Maria of her reading experience. In the video, the 3 year-old and her mom were reading Adventuras en Troya together for the fourth time and she was so excited and engaged, asking questions about the story. 

“The little one was asking her mom, “Tell me about Menelao!!!” He was the King who was married to Elena, who was kidnapped by Paris, giving origin to the Trojan war. That just made my day,” says Maria. 

spanish children's books

Libro Magico Amarillo’s current Spanish children’s books

Most 3 year-olds are not asking about characters from ancient Greek stories, which just shows the amazing power of reading and storytelling. Libro Magico Amarillo’s books immerse children in fun, educational stories and take them on adventures all over the world–literally, since the books characters are personalized based on the child. 

You might be interested: How MiLegasi’s founder deals with resilience in children during COVID-19

Finally, Maria is also using her platform to uplift other entrepreneurs. During her journey, she had many supportive people to uplift her along the way and she wants to pay it forward. 

“I want to be an advocate for the need to provide more support to local business owners and entrepreneurs who do not have access to the same loans or health insurance as others.” 

Maria knows how beneficial it is to have a strong support system and mentors when starting out. To aspiring entrepreneurs she says, “First, count on me, give me a call! I’m happy to pay it forward. Additionally there are a lot of women networks or alliances of fantastic ladies who are doing the same or have done it before and want to help you. Second, believe in yourself. The sky is your limit. Do not let them tell you otherwise. Third, think of how you want to be remembered. I want to be remembered as someone who was not afraid of a challenge or giving a shot to impossible dreams.”